Japan is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. It is a unique blend of traditional and modern, with many temples and buildings from the past co-existing with modern achievements in architecture and technology. Visitors can be immersed in Japanese history and culture one day and get a glimpse of the future through technological developments the next.
Almost all of the historical sites are still used for their original purposes while remaining open to the public. The natural beauty of Japan can be seen all year. In addition, Japan has one of the world’s lowest crime rates which makes it ideal for travelers.
After clearing customs and immigration (which can take up to an hour and a half due to increased tourism to Japan), you will be met at Tokyo’s Narita Airport by a Samurai Tours guide. The guide will then purchase a limousine bus ticket for you and help you board the bus to the hotel. After checking in, the evening is free.
After breakfast, you will start the day with a Welcome/Orientation meeting. Next, the licensed, English-speaking guide will escort you to the Tokyo Tower. The Tokyo Tower is a communications and observation tower in the center of Tokyo. At 332.9 meters (1,092 ft), it is the second-tallest structure in Japan. The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower, with a main observatory at 150 meters that is reached via elevator or a 600-step staircase. Afterwards, we will travel to the famous Ginza district. Ginza is recognized by several jointly of the foremost luxurious searching districts within the world, attracting visitors and regulars alike from across the globe. Before continuing we will stop for a lunch of Kushiage (fried meat and vegetables on bamboo skewers). Next we will travel to the nearby Asakusa area. Here we will tour the Nakamise-dori, Senso-ji Buddhist Temple and the Asakusa Shrine where you will learn about Buddhist and Shinto Japanese religious practices. We will return to the hotel, where we will go through the train tickets for the rest of the tour. Breakfast at the hotel and lunch at a local restaurant included.
Before leaving for the morning, you will prepare your luggage to be transferred to Kyota, and will be traveling to Hakone and Takayama with an overnight bag only. You should prepare your grip with enough things for two days and one night. After breakfast you will travel to Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest fish market. It is estimated that 20% of all the fish caught in the world passes through this market. There are two parts to the Tsukiji Market- the inner market and the outer market. The inner market is for wholesale business and therefore the outer market is for retail. Since groups are not allowed to walk together in the inner market, you will be given some time to wander around the inner market on your own. We will then take some time to walk around the outer market as a group. After this we will go to a restaurant near the market that is popular with locals, and owned by the self-proclaimed “tuna king” for a sushi lunch. After lunch you will have some free time in Tokyo. It is a short walk to the Kabukizatheater. There, you can attend one act of a Kabuki play if a play is scheduled on that day. Admittance is first-come, first-served, and you will have to wait in line to get in. Ask the guide for availability, admittance procedures and the schedule for that day if you are interested. You will meet back at a predetermined time and location to travel to Hakone YumotoOnsen, where we will stay overnight. Here you can enjoy the thermally-heated mineral baths at the ryokan. Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch at a local Japanese restaurant are included.
Before leaving Hakone, you will prepare your luggage to be transferred to Kyoto, and will be traveling with an overnight bag only. In the morning, we will travel by express train and Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. For many, simply the name of metropolis conjures up the classic pictures of Japan: streets of ancient wood homes, the click-clack of geta (wooden sandals) on the paving stones, geisha in a very flourish of bright coloured silks, and a tea master deliberately warming water and making tea. A stroll through metropolis nowadays may be a practise eleven centuries of Japanese history. After lunch we will visit Nijo Castle. Built in 1603, it absolutely was the metropolis home of Tokugawa Ieayasu, the primary Tokugawa Nipponese. The ostentatious style of construction was intended as a demonstration of Ieyasu’s prestige, and to signal the demise of the emperor’s power. The finest artists of the day filled the castle with delicate transom woodcarvings and paintings by the Kano School on sliding doors. One of the castle’s most intriguing features is the so-called “nightingale” floors. To protect the Shogun from real or imagined enemies, these floorboards creak when stepped on. Finally, we will visit Kinkaku-ji. Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, is one of Kyoto’s, as well as Japan’s, most recognizable attractions. The gleaming building covered in gold leaf seems to float on the aptly named Mirror Pond, especially on a sunny day. Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch at a local restaurant is included.
After breakfast, we are off by train to the nearby city of Fushimi, one of the largest sake producing regions of Japan. Here we will visit the Fushimi Inari shrine. This Shinto Shrine, established in the 8th century, is famous for the long tunnels of vermilion torii gates straddling a network of trails leading to the top of the heavily forested Mt. Inari. We will then travel to the Higashiyama District. This area of narrow, cobblestone alleys with its temples, shrines, numerous shops and restaurants is truly enjoyable and relaxing. We will stop for lunch in the Higashiyama District. We will then visit the Yasaka Shrine, also known as the Gion Shrine. This shrine, built over 1350 years ago, is one of the most famous shrines in Kyoto. The shrine’s main hall combines the honden (inner sanctuary) and haiden (offering hall) into a single building. Next, we will walk to the famous Gion Geisha District. Here, you will see where the Geiko (in Kyoto they call themselves Geiko, not Geisha) and Maiko live and work. We will have the opportunity to meet a Maiko (a Maiko is a Geiko in training), and eat dinner at a local restaurant. Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch and dinner at a local Japanese restaurant are included.
You will travel to the airport by express train to catch your flight home. Breakfast at the hotel is included.